By SUNDAR THOMAS, age 9
In March 2013, the Planck Satellite took a picture of light and sound in space, leading scientists at the European Space Agency to discover that the universe is 80 to 100 million years older than originally believed. It is now thought to be about 13.8 billion years old.
The Big Bang was a huge blast that created the universe. The Planck Satellite made a map of the afterglow (the leftover light) of the Big Bang, called the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The universe expanded from microscopic size to larger than a galaxy in a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. It kept expanding quickly, but the Planck Satellite shows that it is expanding more slowly than scientists thought.
Scientists disagree about how important the extra millions of years will be to future theories of the universe and its creation.
Dr. Charles Liu is an Associate for New York City’s Hayden Planetarium. Dr. Liu said the new picture of the universe “changes nothing for people on Earth in our daily lives. It does change though, people’s understanding of how the universe works.”
According to Dr. Liu, “We will use it to help us understand how stars, galaxies and the universe itself might have been born long ago, how they have aged and how they will keep changing and evolving in the future. Ever since people started studying the sky in ancient times, we have tried to understand these processes – and now we’re a little closer to knowing the answers!”